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GUN COUNTRY

GUN CAPITALISM, CULTURE, AND CONTROL IN COLD WAR AMERICA

Illuminating, timely commentary on the rise of consumer gun culture.

How consumerism and paranoia supercharged American gun culture.

In this revealing book, McKevitt, a history professor, analyzes the roles played by unrestrained capitalism and Cold War anxieties in transforming the nation into a “gun country” after World War II. Examining cultural flashpoints around race, gender, and the ostensible threat of communist infiltration, and of the rise of a market for war surplus weaponry from around the globe, the author provides an original way of understanding a stunning and enduring increase in gun ownership in the U.S. Particularly engaging are McKevitt’s detailed explorations of prominent figures involved in this broader narrative, including a colorful arms dealer named Sam Cummings, who exploited lax regulation to flog cheap guns; disarmament activist Laura Fermi, who cannily generated political resistance to a booming crisis of gun violence; and Lee Harvey Oswald, who, like thousands of Americans in the 1960s, bought inexpensive guns through the mail. Also intriguing is the author’s analysis of how the killing of an unarmed Japanese exchange student in Louisiana—and its galvanizing of international outrage at the nation’s violence—both revealed and intensified what is now a familiar domestic cultural divide about gun rights. Though sections of the book are repetitive and meandering, McKevitt offers a compelling argument about where the extremity of America’s permissiveness toward deadly weaponry originated and how debates on the Second Amendment’s meaning have evolved in response to shifting cultural preoccupations. He also makes a persuasive appeal for how the human costs of mass gun ownership could be mitigated. “Meaningful reform is possible, but it will require confronting mythologies and material reality head on,” writes the author. “We must stop legislating around the problem of plenty and in the service of historical obfuscation. If the gun country of the postwar era could be made, it can be unmade.”

Illuminating, timely commentary on the rise of consumer gun culture.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9781469677248

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CINEMA SPECULATION

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

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The acclaimed director displays his talents as a film critic.

Tarantino’s collection of essays about the important movies of his formative years is packed with everything needed for a powerful review: facts about the work, context about the creative decisions, and whether or not it was successful. The Oscar-winning director of classic films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs offers plenty of attitude with his thoughts on movies ranging from Animal House to Bullitt to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to The Big Chill. Whether you agree with his assessments or not, he provides the original reporting and insights only a veteran director would notice, and his engaging style makes it impossible to leave an essay without learning something. The concepts he smashes together in two sentences about Taxi Driver would take a semester of film theory class to unpack. Taxi Driver isn’t a “paraphrased remake” of The Searchers like Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? is a paraphrased remake of Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or De Palma’s Dressed To Kill is a paraphrased remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. But it’s about as close as you can get to a paraphrased remake without actually being one. Robert De Niro’s taxi driving protagonist Travis Bickle is John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. Like any good critic, Tarantino reveals bits of himself as he discusses the films that are important to him, recalling where he was when he first saw them and what the crowd was like. Perhaps not surprisingly, the author was raised by movie-loving parents who took him along to watch whatever they were watching, even if it included violent or sexual imagery. At the age of 8, he had seen the very adult MASH three times. Suddenly the dark humor of Kill Bill makes much more sense. With this collection, Tarantino offers well-researched love letters to his favorite movies of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious eras.

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-311258-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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